Covid: Rules on hospital visits in Wales to change

Nurse maternity
Credit: PA

Hospital patients in Wales could soon have more visitors after a change in Covid guidance comes into force from Monday (July 5).

Revised NHS Wales hospital visiting guidance will give health boards the option to use lateral flow or point-of-care testing to allow hospital visits, including in maternity units.

It recognises the special circumstances of parents in neonatal and paediatric settings, and partners of women in maternity services.

Previous restrictions had not allowed accompanying people to maternity appointments unless there was an exception across Wales.

The hospital visiting guidance reinforces the principle of local decision making based on local conditions. Credit: PA

Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, said in a statement: "Parents of children in hospital and pregnant women and their identified support partner in maternity services are now able to access LFD test packs by collecting test kits from their closest community collection point or by ordering test kits direct to their home.

"The Welsh Government recognises that restrictions on visiting can impact adversely on patients and their loved ones and staff.

"The health, safety and wellbeing of patients, communities and health care provider staff remains an absolute priority.

"Of course, virtual visiting in healthcare settings continues to be encouraged and supported where possible."

The risk of Covid transmission in a healthcare setting remains high, particularly in light of the more transmissible Delta variant, the government said, adding that "the revised guidance does not expect health providers to relax all visiting restrictions at present but recognises that a balance is required".

The guidance reinforces the principle of local decision making based on local conditions.

It also contains an exceptionality provision to allow requests for visiting that are outside the categories listed in the guidance to be considered by health boards, taking into account individual circumstances, but still following local risk assessment processes.